The wait­ing game

John Gra­ham says he’s been told to wait in queue while Mile One Cen­tre fo­cuses on an­other bid­der

The Western Star - - Front Page - BY BREN­DAN MCCARTHY

A man who has been head­ing up a bid to put a mi­nor pro basketball team in St. John’s says he’s be­ing pa­tient, but ad­mits he’s be­come “a bit dis­mayed” by the process in try­ing to ar­range for a lease agree­ment with Mile One Cen­tre.

A man who has been head­ing up a bid to put a mi­nor pro basketball team in St. John’s says he’s be­ing pa­tient, but ad­mits he’s be­come “a bit dis­mayed” by the process in try­ing to ar­range for a lease agree­ment with Mile One Cen­tre.

And no, that man is not Glenn Stanford.

Last week, Toronto pro­moter John Gra­ham emerged as the lat­est con­tender for a Na­tional Basketball League Canada fran­chise for St. John’s, say­ing his po­ten­tial own­er­ship group had a bid be­fore the league, but that it was con­tin­gent on reach­ing a deal with Mile One.

While Gra­ham has reached out to the build­ing’s man­age­ment, he’s says they ap­pear to have been left wait­ing in an outer room while Mile One fo­cuses on an­other NBL Canada pro­posal in­side the main of­fice.

“I don’t re­ally have an up­date. The last we heard from the sta­dium man­ager (Sheena McCrate) was that they were ne­go­ti­at­ing with an­other group and they’d get back to us, but I haven’t heard any­thing,” said Gra­ham on Fri­day.

“My thought is there must be lots go­ing on and that when the time is ap­pro­pri­ate, they’ll hope­fully reach out to us.”

The other group is not one spear­headed by for­mer St. John’s Ice­Caps chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer Glenn Stanford. That bid for an NBL Canada ex­pan­sion fran­chise ended with fail­ure to se­cure a lease deal, with Stanford say­ing the tip­ping point was Mile One want­ing to re­tain all ad­ver­tis­ing and pro­mo­tional rev­enue.

That leaves an own­er­ship group headed up by St. John’s busi­ness­man Tony Kenny. Six days ago, Kenny told The Tele­gram’s Robin Short they had not sub­mit­ted a fran­chise ap­pli­ca­tion to NBL Canada, but that they have had “on­go­ing” talks with Mile One.

“We’re still in the game, I sup­pose,” said Kenny.

“We’re in dis­cus­sions. We’ve been in dis­cus­sions a cou­ple of months, back and forth, back and forth, as I as­sume other in­ter­ested par­ties have been do­ing.”

“Who’s in­volved, who’s in, who’s out, and what the league is do­ing, is any­one’s guess. I don’t know.”

As for his group mak­ing a for­mal bid to NBL Canada, Kenny would not say if one had been made or whether one would be forth­com­ing.

“I haven’t got a com­ment on that,” he said, be­fore adding, “it’s a tan­gled web.”

Kenny re­it­er­ated the abil­ity to pro­vide an in­vest­ment re­turn for him­self and his back­ers will al­ways be the main fac­tor driv­ing their ef­forts.

“In my opin­ion, the prob­lem will not be with Mile One,” said Kenny. “That was never an is­sue and as you know, we haven’t ne­go­ti­ated in the me­dia.

“Mile One and the City of St. John’s are not the is­sue, here, not in our find­ings, any­way.”

Gra­ham just hopes to be able to get to the point where he can make such a de­ter­mi­na­tion.

“I only know that we have been sit­ting and wait­ing on a re­sponse from the build­ing, but that they are fo­cused on an­other group,” he said.

“I am a bit dis­mayed in the process. At the same time, I guess I’m only dis­mayed be­cause it’s from our per­spec­tive.”

In an­other SaltWire Net­work story later in the week, for­mer NBL Canada com­mis­sioner David Ma­gley said Gra­ham was backed by “one of the wealth­i­est men from At­lantic Canada … ever,” and said Gra­ham’s plan in­volved — as had Stanford’s and Kenny’s — for the even­tual ac­qui­si­tion of a Quebec Ma­jor Ju­nior Hockey League fran­chise, but that it also in­cluded the po­ten­tial for a mi­nor pro­fes­sional soccer team in St. John’s.

Ma­gley stepped down as the NBL Canada com­mis­sioner a week ago and has since been an­nounced as pres­i­dent and chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer of the North Amer­i­can Pre­mier Basketball League, a new Chicago-based mi­nor pro hoops cir­cuit set to be­gin play in Jan­uary.

While Ma­gley is no longer with NBL Canada, he told SaltWire Net­work he has re­mained un­of­fi­cially in­volved in talks to put a team in St. John’s and that he was “ab­so­lutely go­ing to make cer­tain this thing goes through.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.